Many of us believe that good design can change the world. Hussein Alazaat and Ali Almasri are in that camp, having applying their experience in branding and crafting corporate identities to a unique kind of creative philanthropy. Wajha is their Amman, Jordan-based crusade to improve communities on a hyper-local scale, by offering pro-bono graphic design services to small businesses in need of a bit of polish and a brand new look. “Our belief in the power of design to improve and revolutionize bad conditions is continuously pushing us to make it available for everyone and accessible in every place,” they tell Co.Design.
They’ve completed two projects thus far, each personalized to the individual proprietor’s needs, determined after meeting, chatting, and a bit of good old-fashioned getting-to-know-you--a process that, from start to finish, takes anywhere from two to five months. And it all began with Khaled, an “inspiring” tailor in Alazaat’s neighborhood. “Khaled is deaf and mute, with a cool hat and funky outfits, but he was barely managing to earn the rent,” they say. “We wanted to give him some hope to keep going on; we wanted him to feel appreciated; and we wanted to integrate a new visual culture in that poor area, all through an unexpected and unknown way--design.”
To call Khaled’s shop cluttered is an understatement; it’s strewn with fabrics, threads, and tools of the trade that build up after years of dedication to the craft. Alazaat and Almasri created for him a kind of modern coat of arms, complete with a scissors and a dapper line-drawn caricature reminiscent of the man himself. “The community’s interaction has been fantastic,” they say. “The kids were laughing about the black mustache!”
Some suppliers and printers have offered discounts due to the nature of the work, but otherwise, Alazaat and Almasri have funded each project from their own pockets in order to maintain the level of integrity they see as imperative. “We don’t want the projects to be affected by any commercial third party in any way.” The pair have plans to expand Wajha’s reach beyond Amman as well. Up next is a barber shop in Almasri’s neighborhood in Zarqua--then, the world awaits. “We’d like to collaborate with other designers and artists from other countries to reach many areas as we can.”
Designers working for a better world, that's it!